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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.76
Liaison Meghan Chapple
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

George Washington University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Shannon Ross
Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have one or more co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that fall into the following categories?:
Yes or No
Active student groups focused on sustainability Yes
Gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems Yes
Student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes Yes
Sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills Yes
Conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles Yes
Sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences Yes
Programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills Yes
Sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution Yes
Graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions Yes
Other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives ---

The name and a brief description of each student group focused on sustainability:

• Green GW - The mission is to unite the student body, administration, and faculty alike to create a more environmentally friendly and green campus while simultaneously increasing awareness of environmental issues. Green GW runs various events on and off campus to raise awareness of sustainability issues and encourage sustainable behaviors, including coffee giveaways for students who bring a reusable mug to the event. They also perform innovative student engagement activities, such as an annual "Trashion Show", where students compete to create clothing out of trash and recyclable materials. See http://studentorgs.gwu.edu/greengw/

• Net Impact - Net Impact’s mission is to improve the world by growing and strengthening a network of new leaders who are using the power of business to make a positive net social, environmental, and economic impact.

• Environmental Law Association - ELA is a student-run organization that works to bring together law students interested in environmental protection and provide educational, career, and networking opportunities in the practice of environmental law. http://docs.law.gwu.edu/stdg/ela/.

• Campaign GW - Campaign GW is an ongoing forum for students to directly share their ideas with the administration and participate in the decision-making process on future GW campus development issues, including sustainability.

• Food Justice Alliance – The Food Justice Alliance is a GW student organization founded the spring semester of 2009 to restore the environment, promote community, build relationships, and pursue justice through food. The FJA partnered with the Office of Sustainability to launch the first on-campus community garden in fall 2009.

• GW Energy Group – The GW Energy Group strives to enhance the networking and educational opportunities for students and the GW community interested in investment, development and regulation of the energy and sustainable development industries. With a focus on the Renewable Energy, Cleantech and Green Building markets, the group meets regularly to develop skills, share experiences, contacts, and coordinate speakers/events. See http://studentorgs.gwu.edu/merlin-cgi/p/so_printRegisteredOrgDetail/d/2469

• Roots & Shoots -The Roots & Shoots program is about making positive change happen—for people, for animals and for the environment. Roots & Shoots members identify problems in our community and take action to do something about it, whether it afflicts people, animals, or our environment.

• Sustainable Urban Planning Student Organization: SUPSO engages GWU, the District of Columbia and the global community through advocacy and outreach to advance the overall field of sustainable urban planning.

• GW Animal Advocates: The purpose of GW Animal Advocates is to spread awareness across the GW campus about animal welfare and animal protection efforts. This may include, but is not limited to, promoting ethical, healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyles, and helping students to understand the importance of these dietary choices.

• Fossil Free GW: Fossil Free GW's ultimate goal is the complete divestment of GW's endowment from 200 companies that own the world's economically recoverable fossil fuel reserves. They advocate for the design and implementation of a reinvestment strategy that will replace fossil fuel investments with investments in the green economy. They work with similar movements in other universities including Harvard, Columbia, Tufts, American, Brandeis, Stanford, UC, and dozens of others.

• Food Recovery Network: The Food Recovery network is a community engagement and direct outreach organization that seeks to minimize and eventually eliminate food waste at GW.

• Engineers for a Sustainable World: The mission of Engineers for a Sustainable World is to foster cooperative action in advancing the common purposes of its members and to promote activities designed to develop, implement, and share sustainable technologies and practices worldwide. In addition, the chapter aims to assist members with their professional network development, educational opportunities, and potential collaborations.

• Capital Food Recovery: The mission of Capital Food Recovery is to help alleviate hunger by collecting edible, surplus food that would be thrown away and distributing it to agencies that feed the hungry. Food is collected from various farmers’ markets, as well as cafes, food stores, and restaurants in the Washington D.C. metro area. The concept of picking up and redistributing food is a simple weapon in the fight against hunger. Though the program does not address the root causes of poverty and socio-economic inequalities, it does have a major impact on hunger locally.

• The George Washington Humanitarian Mapping Society: GWHMS's purpose is to support international development, and international disaster preparation/response efforts through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

•GW Food + Business Club: Our goal is to offer another view of food - through the lens of business. We will be highlighting local entrepreneurs, businesses, research, events, and opportunities with the intent of informing our audience how there are many economic, financial, social, environmental aspects that impact your food, among others.

All of the student groups above are student-governed, with the exception of CampaignGW, which is not a traditional student organization. CampaignGW is a group of student volunteers led by staff in the Division of Operations. These students serve as volunteer Eco Reps to promote sustainability among students living on campus.


The website URL where information about student groups is available:
A brief description of gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems:

In fall 2009 GW opened its first on-campus garden: The GroW Community Garden. It is a project of the student group, The Food Justice Alliance, implemented in partnership with the GW Department of Landscape Design and the GW Office of Sustainability. The group was founded in spring 2009 to "restore the environment, promote community, build relationships, and pursue justice through food". The garden was the recipient of a Fulbright Grant for Eco-Leadership and the funds were used to enhance and expand the garden.

In Fall 2011, the garden received a $20,000 award from a contest put on by Nature's Path to fund expansion and enhancement in the space. In the summer growing season of 2012, over 1,200 pounds of food from the garden were donated to a local soup kitchen, Miriam's Kitchen.

Starting in Fall 2013, the GroW Garden is collaborating monthly with the neighborhood Farmers' Market to promote the garden and the benefits of urban gardening at the market. Since the Fall 2014 season, produce from the GroW Garden is now being incorporated into the Farmer's Market's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, in order to increase awareness of the garden in the local community.

The garden is organic and the student gardeners consistently seek out local vendors who can provide them with pesticide-free soil, mulch and compost.

The Office of Sustainability funds a garden manager student intern position to maintain the space and coordinate student and community involvement with the garden. The initiative is not student-governed, rather is it supervised by the Office of Sustainability. However, the student group Food Justice Alliance, who were critical in making the garden a reality, is student-governed, and most of the student Garden Managers are also part of this student organization.


The website URL where information about the organic agriculture and/or sustainable food systems projects and initiatives is available:
A brief description of student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes:

GW provides institutional support for student-run sustainable enterprises through a formal and in-depth program. GW's social/environmental enterprise lab, GWupstart, has full-time staff support and $60,000 available in 2014-15 to students who initiate or expand their own environmental or social enterprises. Students gain relevant business skills through workshops, experienced mentors, pitching practice sessions, and competitive funding opportunities. GW is excited about its long-term pledge to support student social entrepreneurs as part of its Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action.

GWupstart also provides services to students seeking to enter the GW Business Plan Competition. The GW Business Plan Competition provides GW students, faculty, and alumni with a real world educational experience in developing, testing, and launching their own startups. The competition fosters entrepreneurship at GW through workshops, mentoring, non-dilutive cash grants, in-kind prizes, networking opportunities, publicity, and concept validation. In 2015 there will be $200,000 in awards given to the best student business plans.


The website URL where information about the student-run enterprise(s) is available:
A brief description of the sustainable investment or finance initiatives:

Micro-Financing GW is a student-governed organization that aspires to create a micro-finance institution for the local DC community. The organization hopes to build a strong, mutually benificial bond between the organization and the surrounding community. Organizational goals consist of establishing a financial literacy program that benefits the local community by increasing knowledge of financial concepts, programs, and tools, and eventually micro-lending to a target market in the DC area.


The website URL where information about the sustainable investment or finance initiatives is available:
A brief description of conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

GW hosts many events throughout the year related to sustainability. GW's location in Washington, DC, gives the university ample access to key decision makers and policymakers, and GW views itself as a vital convener on sustainability issues in the District. GW has recently hosted events including:

- The Business Response to Climate Change: In 2013, GW business school students hosted the third annual conference aimed at bringing together business leaders, policymakers and academics to discuss solutions for a changing climate.

- DC Environmental Film Festival: GW hosts environmental films annually on campus as part of this festival annually, including most recently a documentary on urban farming, and the previous year one on international development. GW Faculty introduce the film.

- GW Feeding the Planet Summit: Sustainable Innovations in Food Security - This 2013 innovation summit gathered leaders from agriculture, business, finance, academia, NGOs, government and media from across the country to focus on game-changing innovations in global agriculture and food security. The summit explored transformational and scalable developments in policy, practices and technologies and paid special attention to the related issues of gender, climate change and urbanization.

- Earth Day Activities: Each year, GW hosts a series of student-focused events designed around a theme during Earth Month. The 2014 theme was "Sustainable Food", and featured events throughout the month aimed at helping students understand how the foods they eat and their food decisions relate to the sustainability of the planet. At the annual Earth Day Fair students participated in a tap-water taste test and learned about worm composting. They also met with partners from the Foggy Bottom Farmer's Market, Zipcar, Whole Foods, and Capital Bikeshare and learned about energy efficiency by playing with tools such as watt-o-meters. The 2013 theme was "What Can You Do?", and focused on the impact that students can personally make on the environment. Featured vendors in 2013 included Capital Bikeshare, Zipcar, Whole Foods, and many more.

- Solar Roundtable: Expanding Low-Income Solar in Washington, D.C., hosted by GW Solar Institute and DC SUN in April 2014. This roundtable brought together key stakeholders from the low-income housing community, advocacy organizations, the solar industry, and officials from the DC and federal government to discuss and develop recommendations on how to best scale the deployment of solar energy for low-income District residents.

-In January 2015, in partnership with Food Tank, GW hosted the First Annual Food Tank Summit. This two-day event featured more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, government officials, and students came together for panels on topics including; food waste, urban agriculture, family farmers, farm workers, and more. The event hosted 50 student volunteers, 250 attendees, and 10,000 people on the live video stream. It also trended #1 worldwide on Twitter. The event will occur again in 2016. http://foodtank.com/

- Since 2011, GW Sustainability Collaborative has organized a "Frontiers in Sustainability" speaker series. Speakers include GW faculty experts as well as invited national and international thought leaders on such topics as climate change, energy, water, and urban sustainability. Many of our internal and external speakers attracted sustainability faculty from several different schools, helping to enhance interdisciplinary conversations on these issues. GW has designated this speakers series as a "Univeristy Seminar Series" due to its interdisciplinary nature.

This is just a sample of recent GW sustainability events. While these events are not student-governed, many students take place in the planning and organizing of these events, as well as participate in the programs. GW is committed to holding outreach events and convening thought leaders on sustainability.


The website URL where information about the event(s) is available:
A brief description of cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

The GW Trashion Show is a student organized event that challenges students to create high fashion out of their trash. The past three shows have featured garbage bags, newspaper, and even plastic cups. Celebrity judge, Sam Donovan, from Project Runway’s Under the Gunn, spoke about his research with zero waste fashion at a recent show.

The on campus art exhibition space, Gallery 102, has featured several art exhibits that incorporate sustainability. The Slow Food Photography exhibit displayed student work based on the Slow Food movement started by Carlo Petrini in 1989. Through photographic documentation, students explored the ecological effects of different food practices such as urban farms, community gardens, and farmers markets. Other exhibitions include Flora Forms: Inquiry into the art of biophilia technology and Architectures*Systems*Ecologies which dealt with ecological processes and systems thinking.


The website URL where information about the cultural arts event(s) is available:
A brief description of wilderness or outdoors programs for students that follow Leave No Trace principles:

The Mission of GW TRAiLS is to provide the GW community with diverse outdoor experiences that promote leadership, self discovery, respect for the environment, and community service. Through these principles and actions, TRAiLS strives to foster an active outdoor community at GW that benefits our lives, our city, and our world.

TRAiLS strives to be environmentally-friendly and to leave as little of an impact as possible on trips using the Leave No Trace philosophy. This is done through considering the environment in waste disposal, campfire impact, leaving what is found, and respecting wildlife. TRAiLS is a student-governed organization.


The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors program(s) is available:
A brief description of sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

GW featured a sustainability first-year experience in 2014. All incoming freshmen read Will Allen's book, "The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities". As part of this program, students read the book and wrote response papers about the topics. During the fall semester professors integrated the themes of the book, including sustainable food, the environmental aspects of agricultural production, and healthy food access. Author and urban farmer Will Allen gave a keynote address at The George Washington University on his book in September 2014.

As a result of the First Chapter yearlong theme of food justice, the Freshman Day of Service in September 2014 featured ECO City Farms in Edmonston, MD (the founders trained with Will Allen) and other urban farms as service sites. In addition, urban environmental strategist Majora Carter was the featured speaker for the Freshman Day of Service.


The website URL where information about the theme is available:
A brief description of program(s) through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

GW provides sustainable features as part of the model residence hall room that all prospective students (thousands per year) visit during their campus visit. These features include sustainable cleaning products, reusable mugs, water bottles, and bags, a drying rack, shower timer, smart power strips, a water filtration pitcher, and more. These features were provided as part of the collaboration between GW Housing and the Office of Sustainability.

In 2014, GW also launched NewU, a program on adjusting to college for first year students, and FutureU, a life skills program for third and fourth year students. Both of these programs seek to ensure GW students are successful as students and alumni through an optional program of module based experiential learning. NewU focuses on competencies including career planning, navigating life in the District of Columbia, and connecting with faculty. FutureU provides participants with skills like financial management and etiquette. A major focus of each program is how to eat healthy and how to purchase and prepare healthy, sustainable foods. This focus equips participants to make environmentally sounds choices and maintain a healthy lifestyle.


The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills program(s) is available:
A brief description of sustainability-focused student employment opportunities:

The Academic Program Director works closely with the staff in the Career Center to provide students with career resources, career preparation workshops, and career and alumni networking events for sustainability students.

In addition to the student positions within the Office of Sustainability, Facilities Services, and the Sustainability Collaborative, the Office of Sustainability regularly promotes external positions on the sustainability website. Additionally, the students enrolled in the sustainability minor are also included on a listserv run by the academic director of sustainability, which disseminates sustainability-related positions available to students.


The website URL where information about the student employment opportuntities is available:
A brief description of graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions:

GW offers a green graduation pledge to graduating seniors, which states "I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work."

Students who sign the pledge receive a ribbon that they can wear to graduation, and are added to the Green Alumni Network listserv to stay engaged in sustainability at GW in the future. Since 2010, over 800 students have signed the green graduation pledge.


The website URL where information about the graduation pledge program is available:
A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:
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The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.